The filmed versions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings helped ignite renewed interest in these classics among the contemporary audience and readers. First to come was the LOTR film trilogy in the first years of the millennium and in no time, it garnered huge popularity for the films and for the books as well. And before the interest had any chance to wane, the producers came out with the prequel to LOTR trilogy, The Hobbits Series, another set of three films released in the years 2012-2014. This information may seem redundant to anyone who is interested in buying a Lord of the Rings themed chess set, since it can be safely assumed that the person is already a dedicated LOTR fan.
However, one reason to mention this was to explain the huge number of LOTR themed chess sets that are available today (unlike, for example, Harry Potter chess sets of which you can only find a few that are still in production today). In view of that, it may come off as a little surprising that we’ve chosen to mention only three chess sets in our present selection out of those hundreds of Lord of the Things chess sets that are offered by a host of different brands and makers. Well, to clarify that a little, we had decided, for the purpose of the present article, to present to our readers only the very bests among the lot. In other words, truly luxury chess sets that are functional but which can as well be viewed as collector’s items or precious display pieces. All the same, for the sake of those who are on a budget, the second item on our list, we hope, will be a satisfactory compromise between quality and price.
3 Top Lord of the Rings Chess Sets
As far as deluxe themed chess sets go, this one by the Noble Collection is truly a masterwork, by any standards. In terms of design, quality, craftsmanship, ingenuity of the makers and the overall aesthetic, this stunning piece looks like the one to collect if you’re a fan of themed chess sets. However, there is extra delight in store for the diehard LOTR fans as the chess pieces include a flurry of characters that span both LOTR as well as the Hobbit series. On White’s side, you’ll find characters such as Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, Arwen, Merry, Sam and Pippin waging their battle for Middle Earth against the dark and satanic Lurtz, Saruman, Uruk-hai, Ringwraith, a cave troll, four separate orcs, and so on. The colored green and purple rings at the pedestal of each character make it easy to distinguish the heroes from the villains.
The board measures 15 X 15 X 4.5 inches and is made of high quality porcelain the quality of which elevates the set to a different level altogether. There is also a glossy plexiglass covering over the surface of the board meant to prevent wear and tear. You’ll be no less impressed by the glass and pewter chess pieces that superbly complement the high end design of the board. Along the perimeter of the board, you’ll find little alcoves where you can stow away the pieces when they are not in use. This is great when one will like to use the set as a showpiece. However, you also have the option to store them in the separate storage box provided for the pieces.
As we mentioned, this set from Artschess is a nice blend of quality and price. At $149, the set is affordable enough (unless you are looking for some plastic material set for heavy and frequent use) and both the board and the resin pieces are made of quality materials and will last. The board measures 14.5 X 14.5 inches while the actual playing surface is an 11 inch square. The height of the board is 2.5 inches. What is impressive about the board is that it’s made of solid hardwood and we also especially like the classic look of its polished golden and brown chequered surface. Under the playing board, you’ll find a nice foam insert storage compartment with little cut-outs for all the individual pieces.
To come to the pieces, the set includes well-balanced and well-made resin pieces that are 2.5-3.5 inches tall. Like most LOTR themed chess sets, this one also includes different characters from the series—the pieces with the heroes arrayed on one side and the dark fellows on the other! Although the pieces seem to have just a little too much splashes of color, you won’t find any difficulty in viewing or separating them. Unlike some sets (such as the ones you find in the other two items on our list) where each single piece including the pawns is portrayed by a different character, the pieces are easy to recognize and play in this board, even for someone whose knowledge of the series and the characters therein have become somewhat rusty! All pawn pieces for each side are represented by the same character. Similarly, the knight, bishop and rook pairs are portrayed by a pair of a single character.
In addition, there are some tiny icons attached to each piece to indicate their respective roles on the board. Which means that even someone who is a total alien to the Middle Earth world can still use this set without any difficulty at all! The only negative we can find with this set is the details on the pieces. They are bit on the rough side and could’ve done with a little more care and craftsmanship on the part of the makers.
This Eaglemoss Collector’s set is actually one of a three-set series each of which features a separate array of characters and a differently styled board. In our opinion, all the three sets can be viewed as worthy additions to the Noble Collection LOTR set mentioned earlier in the article and to all luxury chess sets in general. The present one comes as the second offering in the collection and we’ve chosen this one on the merit that the board for this set has a more classic look to it as compared to the other two. The board is made of a heavy plastic material, but great design and a plenty of tasteful and detailed decorations (including a map of Middle Earth etched flush on the playing surface) mean that it still looks good enough for a display piece.
The set, however, truly excels by virtue of its pieces. You’ll meet many familiar characters from the trilogy and the artists have seemingly taken great pains to create as faithful a reproduction of the characters as possible. Simply put, you will find the details on these hand painted lead & resin pieces mesmerizing and one can safely say that the set is worth its money for these pieces alone. The set also comes complete with a little booklet introducing you to the series as well as a handy folder that includes short descriptions of the pieces and the characters.
Lord of the Rings Chess Set Brands
As we mentioned, LOTR themed chess sets are still extremely popular and many top board game manufacturers offer their own line of LoTR sets. However, as is the case with most themed chess set products, the Noble Collection items are really a cut above the others. On top of that, they have the authorization from Warner Brothers, the producer of the film. However, when it comes to LOTR deluxe editions, the three exquisite chess sets from Eaglemoss give Noble a tough competition here.
Apart from these two, some other brands churning out quality products include Parker Brothers, Artschess and the official Lord of the Rings brand that deals exclusively in LOTR memorabilia. If you’re looking for items in the budget category, the Parker Brothers’ Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King will satisfy you. As you can guess, these two chess sets are focused exclusively on those two films and the characters found therein. And if you own a Noble or Eaglemoss collector’s set, you may also consider the ‘The Two Tower 12’ and ‘The Return of the King 12’—two sets of 12 chess pieces offered by the official Lord of the Rings brand. Each features 12 highly detailed beautiful pewter pieces that represent different characters from the respective films. You can replace some of your array of Noble or Eaglemoss pieces with these characters to add some extra bit of fun to your LOTR chess play!
Average Price of LOTR Chess Sets
Commonly, you’ll find two categories in LOTR themed chess sets—the budget and the deluxe. For products from the first category, expect to pay anything between $10o and $150 for your set. Deluxe editions, on the other hand, may burn a whole in your pocket with pries falling in the $500-$700 range.
As always, Amazon is a reliable place if you’re buying online because of their reputation but also since you can compare quotes from a large number of sellers selling their products through Amazon. Another great store for LOTR collectibles is the WBshop.com that offers a huge number and variety of memorabilia from popular film series that are produced by Warner Bros. Studios. The site is the officially licensed store of the studio. Finally, if you’re buying a Noble product, you may also check the Noble’s own online store noblecollection.com.
Things to Consider When Choosing Your LOTR Chess Set
Basically, the three things to consider when choosing a themed chess set are style, the quality of the materials and the price. If you can’t afford a deluxe set and subsequently opt for a budget-friendly item, you must pay special attention to the build quality of the materials. Read as many reviews as you can and make sure that the board and the pieces are sturdy enough and will last long. After all, even a $150 is no pittance and you don’t want it to go waste on a set that will start to lose shape within a couple of months! Also, it is important that the pieces are well-balanced and sit nicely on the board surface so you can play without any discomfort.
On the other hand, when choosing an expensive collector’s item, you may want to focus your attention more on the style factor—its design, details and the overall aesthetic. As for the material, our suggestion is to go for one of the most popular products in its class since this is the safer option. By dint of its very popularity, you can rest content that you’ll get your hands on a quality product material wise.
Top Lord of the Rings Characters in LOTR Chess Sets
As mentioned earlier, most LOTR chess sets will include characters from the two trilogies for the pieces on the board (since they don’t have the benefit of a Final Challenge like sequence as in Harry Potter themed boards). The only difference is that some sets will only include a limited number of characters, whereas others will go the distance and include a separate LOTR character for each single piece (including the pawns). The characters from the trilogy that are included most often include Frodo, Gandalf, Legolas, Gollum, Aragorn, Merry, Sam and Pippin as well as many others. For something a bit different, however, you may also check the Gollum box set offered by Eaglemoss.